From Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz
First and foremost, I know that the events that occurred yesterday in our community were traumatic, and I want everyone to know that I feel and I have heard the pain this has caused for many members in our community and especially to the families who had their loved ones taken away.
I want to express my gratitude to the Bend community for providing an example to the rest of our communities and our nation of what a peaceful First Amendment event looks like. The right to express yourself through peaceful expressions of free speech is a tantamount right of our United States and Oregon Constitutions.
Last night’s event at the 500 block of SW Industrial Way was an example of our community organizing and managing an event that remained overall peaceful. We observed numerous examples of community members that could have changed the overall tone of the event. However, our own community members worked to keep the event peaceful. Thank you.
We also understand that some community members do not feel safe from federal authorities. There is a tension between our role in maintaining safety and the fact that federal authorities are allowed to operate in Bend. While we cannot prevent federal authorities from operating, we are focused on doing whatever we can to keep our community safe.
We know many people have unanswered questions about what happened yesterday. Responses specific to the Bend Police Department, are detailed below.
The Bend Police Department received a notification to the dispatch center in the early morning hours of August 11, 2020, from a Department of Homeland Security agent that they were in an area of Bend conducting an investigation. The details of this investigation were not specific to us, and there is no obligation or requirement that the federal investigators share this information with us. It is common for federal agencies to notify local agencies when they are in the area conducting investigations, however there is not typically detailed information released regarding those investigations.
Later in the day, we received a call for service of a suspicious circumstance of a vehicle parked in a neighborhood. Bend Police responded. Upon contact, we determined that the vehicle was occupied by a federal investigator, at which point we left the scene. The vehicle was not one of the buses in yesterday’s event. No other information was learned from this contact.
In the early morning hours of August 12, 2020, we received a notification to the dispatch center that federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security were in Bend conducting an investigation. No additional details were provided to us, which is standard for federal investigators, as they have no obligation to notify or work with local departments.
On August 12, 2020, in the early afternoon at about 1:07 pm, the Bend Police Department received a call for service in the rear parking lot of a hotel at the 500 block of SW Industrial Way. We learned federal agents were trying to move buses and were being blocked by 25-30 people, and that three federal agents were armed. Based on this information, Bend Police Officers responded to the area. Because of the unknown overall nature of this call, we sent resources from patrol and any other available officers. At that time, Bend Police Department had several members actively participating in a training exercise for their assignment to the Central Oregon Emergency Response Team (CERT) who responded to the scene as well. The Bend Police Department had both uniform patrol officers and officers assigned to the CERT team on scene at this point. Some were dressed in normal uniforms and some were in their gear they were training in, the gear that was available to them. These are what are community members identify as SWAT teams.
I arrived on scene very quickly with several other members of the Bend Police Department command staff. We quickly assessed the situation and learned that this was a first amendment event. Members of our community were blocking the path of two DHS transport buses that contained DHS agents, federal contractor employees and two people who were in their custody. We learned that these were agents from the immigration office of DHS and that they had two detainees on board the buses. We also learned the overall event appeared to be peaceful and that all of our resources on scene were not necessary. We took quick action to pull our officers out of the area and just to maintain a visible presence to provide for life safety and community safety. I also immediately found resources to replace the officers that arrived on scene from CERT training in green uniforms.
I realize the visible presence of officers on scene of a peaceful event in this specialized gear – typically used for response to an active threat situation - caused a lot of fear and anxiety in our community. I am sorry to our community for increasing this anxiety. I realized this immediately, and did pull these officers out of the area as soon as possible in an effort to deescalate any anxiety or fear that this may have caused.
Then, Wednesday afternoon, I began reaching out to multiple federal executives in an effort to get information about what specifically was occurring and the specifics of the people in custody on the bus. I was told that the agents were assigned to the enforcement and operation unit in DHS and they had two people in custody for immigration warrants with underlying criminal charges. I assessed the situation and did not find any reasons to believe we needed to act quickly for any life safety issues. This gave us the ability to continue to set up our response and gather additional information. Ultimately we learned that the two people being detained were in custody for an administrative detention and removal warrant. DHS refused to provide additional information of who the detained people were or if there were any additional criminal charges.
Once this information was gathered, I applied Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820, specifically section 1 to this event.
The state law reads, No law enforcement agency of the State of Oregon or of any political subdivision of the state shall use agency moneys, equipment or personnel for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.
When Bend became Welcoming City in 2017 we reaffirmed our alignment with state law and Bend Police Departmental policy reflects these same values. We do not assist federal authorities on matters that only involved immigration issues, and we did not assist federal authorities yesterday.
After evaluating the information available, I gave directions to maintain a small group of officers at the scene and to be visible, protect life safety issues and to provide a safe space for expression of speech. The objectives I set for our members were to;
- Maintain uniform presence on scene for public safety/life safety response.
- Allow for expression of free speech.
- Maintain lines of communication between police department and any members of the community groups that wish to communicate.
- Maintain a friendly and accessible demeanor.
I continued to have contact with DHS executives and I advised them that Bend PD was maintaining a presence for safety only, and that we would not assist them in any of their detention efforts, including removing persons in custody from their bus and moving them to another transport vehicle. I spent the afternoon and night interacting with federal officials, Mayor Sally Russell, City Council members in Bend, City Manager Eric King, the City Attorney’s Office, partner agencies, and community members working to deescalate the event and come to a safe outcome for all community members.
Ultimately, the DHS made the decision that if we were unable to assist them, they would be required to dispatch one of their teams to remove their personnel, employees and person in custody off their buses. I advised them that I would share this information and let our community know that the federal agents would be arriving to remove the people off the transport buses. I advised federal officials that the people that who were present were peaceful, expressing their free speech. I also told them that there were many families with children in the groups and this was an overall peaceful event with no aggressive activities currently. I did acknowledge that at the very beginning of the event, a person was involved in attempting to flatten tires on one of the buses. This action stopped quickly and that person left the area.
I decided Bend Police would maintain our visual presence for overall life safety of all of our community and that if federal agents arrived we would not be assisting in their efforts of removal and detention.
From this time on, until the federal agents arrived on scene, the Bend Police Department stayed on scene, at a distance, for safety to our community.
Myself, Mayor Russell, City Manager Eric King, District Attorney John Hummel and other City officials went directly to the event and I spoke with our community and thanked them for keeping this peaceful. I offered information to our community that federal agents would be arriving on scene soon and that they would be removing people off of the buses. I asked our community members and organizers to help keep the event peaceful. These community members were essential partners.
Once the federal agents arrived on scene, Bend PD members, moved away further from the event to ensure we were not assisting or perceived to be involved in the federal actions. I am aware that the federal agents removed the people off the buses. I have had no communications with them since then regarding their actions, and I have no information as to what specifically they did to accomplish removing people off of the buses. Once they removed people, the agents left and community members began to leave the area.
Bend PD continued to monitor the event and the remained with an increased presence in the Old Mill area to ensure overall community safety. Later in the evening, we were made aware that federal agents had returned and removed the buses that were in the parking lot. The Bend Police Department did not assist in the removal of the buses and did not have any advance information that the buses would be removed.
Today, I spent time with members of our community affected by this event and began to hear about their experience from yesterday. I will continue to build on the relationships with partners in our community. I stand with you, and share your interest in finding solutions.
Bend Police Chief